Charcoal Grills vs Propane

Charcoal Grills vs Propane – A¬†charcoal barbecue grill is not typically first choice these days with all of the “convenient” automatic propane barbecues that are loaded with features. I don’t think the charcoal barbecues get all that much consideration because they’re being overshadowed by the monstrous BBQ machines that are supposed to make outdoor grilling easier and more fun.


Our monstrous propane grill bit the dust last week. I don’t think we’ve ever had one last longer than 5-6 years in spite of all the routine maintenance we perform on it and the semi regular use all of ours have received. Honestly, I was getting tired of the maintenance on this thing. One of the ceramic plates had cracked. There was something wrong with the gas line and the propane tank kept on registering empty even though it was full. The push button start died shortly after we got it. The interior components needed to be cleaned carefully to avoid rust and to keep it clear of food debris, cobwebs, etc. so heat could be generated evenly. And, there were so many parts to this thing that cleaning it was a multi-hour, messy job.

Charcoal Grills vs Propane –¬†Reasons to Consider Charcoal

  • Cost – Charcoal grills are noticeably less expensive
  • Maintenance – Charcoal grills require less maintenance
  • Taste – Most prefer the taste of charcoal to propane
  • Cleaning – Charcoal grills are easier to clean

So, when this thing officially became “too much work” for me to care about, I pushed it to the curb (literally) and looked into charcoal grill options.

I started off by doing some research. It was great to see the huge price difference. I was able to find a CharBroil charcoal barbecue grill that was a decent size for my family for only $79. Granted, I wasn’t going to feed the neighborhood at a block party on this small grill, but it was adequate for a family of 4. It was simple, but still had features that made it convenient enough, i.e. shelves, and the ability to smoke meats. Charcoal BBQ grills have come a long way since the 1970s flying saucer-shaped grills.

To be honest, I had never cooked with charcoal before! So, this whole thing was a learning experience and I wasn’t sure if it was going to work out but I was very willing to make it work since all I wanted to do was get the grilling experience back to the basics.

I bought some briquettes from Trader Joe’s. They aren’t a true charcoal, but rather all natural hardwood briquettes, which they claim is much better for you than consuming food that was prepared over burning charcoal. I found it interesting so picked up a couple bags. And, they were way cheaper than the charcoal I had just purchase at Lowe’s. The Trader Joe’s Hardwood Briquettes were about $7 for an 18-lb. bag. I think I paid about $12 for a 16-lb bag at Lowe’s for a wood/charcoal combo. Since I have nothing to compare it to, I can’t say the Trader Joe’s briquettes are better, but I can say they worked great.

Charcoal Grills vs Propane – Charcoal BBG Grilling Tips

  • Starting – Pile the briquettes in a pyramid fashion. All the briquettes should be doused with the lighter fluid. Light the pile from the bottom. Once the flame goes out after a few minutes, the briquettes will continue to burn. Once they are 80% ash, you’re ready to cook.
  • Maintenance – Keeping the entire interior of the grill “greased” with vegetable oil helps keep it rust resistant.

After using the charcoal barbecue grill, I love it. It took some getting used to but I definitely prefer it over the propane barbecue grill. The food tastes better, and the maintenance is simpler. I brush off the grates and once the ashes are fully cooled, you just dump them out and clean up is done. And if a piece of food fell through the grates during cooking, no worries, it conveniently fell into the pile of ashes that is easily dumped out. No reaching under mulitple components trying to fish out the chunk of chicken that got lost. Now, I will never go back to propane cooking. Charcoal barbecues are simple, fun, and the food tastes better.

Charcoal Grills vs Propane, which do you prefer?

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